Yes, I have returned to reviewing the animes after a year long hiatus wherein I regained my affection towards the medium. That said, I do plan on having my schedule for the foreseeable future to be rather inconsistent. If I want to put up two reviews a month, or one review every two months, I will. So, here’s a review of a series I decided to watch because its ad involved a man eating a woman’s face, and two people having stupidly speedy tentacle based sword fights.
Parasyte -the maxim- Review
Availability: Subtitled on Crunchyroll
Parasyte focuses an invasion of sorts from, you guessed it, a parasite that may or may not be from space, infiltrating human bodies, taking over their brains and attempting to… well, survive for the most part. One of these parasites, later named Migi, attempts to take over the brain of a highschool student by the name of Shinichi, fails, and instead crawls up into his right arm. This failure makes Migi, and by extension Shinichi something of a threat to the existence of other parasites, and as such they begin hunting him while also maintaining their own survival. Or at least that is the overarching premise.
Shinichi has a character arc wherein he gradually becomes less human, as his appearance changes, reflexes become better, and is generally a better person physically at the cost of being unable to feel or even properly convey emotions. It’s actually a pretty well done transition, although it does suffer a bit from some very blunt reinforcement as characters love to ask, “Are you really Shinichi?” However, the arc never really goes anywhere, and even if there is some claim that he learned to rely on his humanity near the end, the show’s message about humanity being inherently good or bad is so screwed and poorly explained that I honestly wasn’t sure what the writer was trying to convey.
I’m by no means opposed to the idea of an alien being coming to earth and deciding that humanity should be expelled, but the analysis they give is so bias towards being negative, and honestly comes across as a bit juvenile. Nothing becomes of it anyhow, as the ending of the entire series feels as if it was done by a different creative team entirely. Not to get into details, but amalgamation of tropes and general absurdity of the situations leading up to the epilogue that I felt actually hurt whatever message the show was trying to get across led to a conclusion that came across as hamfisted and rushed.
The parasite problem is not resolved, and they simply go about their lives, but learn to eat human food instead of, well, humans. Nobody is ever aware of what parasites truly are, Shinichi supposedly goes about a normal life with a love interest whose relationship more or less erupted into sex for no real reason I could pick up on, and whatever side characters were established are more or less forgotten. There is so much potential with this idea, but I can’t help but feel as if most of it was squandered, resulting in my final impression of the show being that of a mix of apathy and disappointment.
Still, Parasyte is based on a twenty year old manga that I guess is being revived as a multimedia project, with two live action films in addition to this anime, so there must be something that people remembered about the series and found it to be worth digging up. Well, I am under the assumption that the imagery of a young man with an eye stalk and small blade coming out of his hand is almost iconic of the series, but when actually sitting back and thinking of the practicality of this in an otherwise fairly grounded show, it’s pretty stupid.
I get it’s more a visual thing than anything else, but it still seems odd that Migi needs plump lips to speak, and can manage to hear when it does not even have ear holes. Even its rubber-like movement looks very silly in contrast with the show’s desire to be both striking with its violence and serious with its tone. Also, the incredible speed the parasites’ blade tentacles move at are absurd, in addition to looking a bit odd, as they supposedly harden human cells into what looks like metal.
I can’t help but view it as a bad sign that the first anime, first two animes actually, that I decided to review after this hiatus of mine are prime examples of the sort of thing that caused me to feel burnt out by anime. While housing an interesting premise and ideas, it’s execution ultimately left me feeling a bit drained, and wondering if I was simply missing an element of the show, or perhaps I fixated on the wrong aspects of the story. There is certainly something here and glimpses of something that could be of a rather high quality, but as it ended, I could not help but shrug as I recollected what I had watched, and look forward to what’s next on my docket.